Film1 aims to be a 360 service for movie lovers in the Netherlands, says Kate Marsh, executive vice president for Western Europe at Sony Pictures Television (SPT) Networks, with curation being key to guide viewers to the content they love.
Sony Pictures Television acquired the premium movies platform over a year ago, when Liberty Global was forced to sell the service as one of the conditions for the merger of the Ziggo and UPC cablenets in the country
Film1 is unique for the international broadcaster, as it is the only premium movie operation they own and operate. In other territories, Sony has free-to-air movie channels, including AXN for action movies and Animax for manga. “The Netherlands is a good territory for us, as it has a very high broadband penetration.” There are no plans to offer any other channels in the Netherlands, or to start a similar premium service in other countries.
Following the closure of the HBO linear channels and HBO Go TV everywhere platform at the end of the year, Film1 is once again the only platform that offers movies in the first pay window. It is available on 21 networks in Holland, on cable, IPTV and satellite DTH (M7), as well as OTT via the Playstation Network. At the moment, Sony has no plans to offer any other OTT service. “We want to work together with all our distribution partners, and work in marketing our product.”
“We want to be the number 1 destination for premium movies,” says Kate, “We show about 70% of all Top 10 box office hits, as well as 80% of the top 10 Dutch movies.” Contracts are in place with Dreamworks, Fox, Disney, Paramount, and MGM as well as with a large number of independents. The movies are available on five linear channels; and all titles are available on-demand via the cablers and IPTV providers.
The five linear channels are grouped by genre, called Film1 Premiere, Action, Family, Drama and the fifth one is co-branded Sundance offering arthouse type titles.
The Film1 Go app is available as a TV Everywhere service and can be accessed with authenticated log-in. It offers live streams of all the five channels as well as on-demand access to all titles. The app, which is available across web, iOS and Android, gives the broadcaster unique insight in usage, but unfortunately only wanted to share the information that Android users are more prone to watch on smartphones, while iOS users prefer the tablet (iPad).
Curation is key for Film1, in order to guide viewers to the right content. “it is our aim to always offer a good movie.” There are on average 400 titles available at any time with new titles being added every months. Film1’s main fare is movies, and a few library titles, but there are a number of TV series available as well including Vikings, Once Upon a time, and Gomorra. The focus remains on films, however.
One of the first things Sony did after taking control of the channel was to start a complete re-branding exercise to reflect the fact that it is a digital, multiscreen movie service where films are available anytime and anyplace. Linear is still important, but also the fact that all titles are available on demand as soon as the window opens. Kate believes this offers the viewers the best of both worlds in this age of growing competition from Netflix, Amazon and the likes.
Platforms are free to set the monthly subscription fee, but averages around EUR15 per month. However, with increasing competition between that various platforms, services such as Film1 can be included at no extra cost in top-tier packages. The country’s two largest providers, KPN (IPTV) and Ziggo (cable) are already using exclusive content to stop churn and win new customers, e.g. Ziggo is offering it premium sports channel Ziggo Sport to all its subscribers and will offer HBO content at no additional to its top-tier subscribers, while KPN is developing a number of ‘KPN Original’ TV series for exclusive viewing on its IPTV network.
SPT’s channel brands in Western Europe include Sony Entertainment Television, AXN, Animax, Sony Movie Channel, Movies4Men, More>Movies, AXN Sci-Fi, AXN White and AXN Black, as well as the Pop and Tiny Pop children’s channels and the Film 1 premium movie channels in the Netherlands.